Every American college has its "gut" or "Mickey Mouse" courses. These terms describe classes that are, shall we say, not rigorous. Basket-weaving is the usual, sarcastic example. Or courses like "Brewing Beer" and "The Science of Surfing." Such classes really exist.

Which makes us suspicious of a course that will debut this fall at the respected, state-run University of Maryland. It's called, "Golf for Business and Life." That's a gut course if we ever heard one.

Or is it?

Turns out, "Golf for Business and Life" is not just an excuse to put on your spikes and knock a few balls down the fairway. Its designers say it will teach you to play a passable round of golf. But more important, it will reveal the secrets of business deals and interview strategies on the golf course. Ethics, too -- which are supposed to be scrupulous in golf and could use some improvement in business.

For a century now, barons of industry and other big-shot men have sealed big deals over a round of golf. Women are only now being admitted to the cozy networks of golfers who build contacts, friendships, and trust -- three essential ingredients to business success.

The Washington Post reports that companies across America are hiring experts to teach the game not just to executives, but also to middle managers and sales people, as an essential element in "business development."

And all across America, it seems like every pasture that doesn't have a cow or housing development on it is being turned into a golf course. Golf seminars are selling out, and college classes like "Golf for Business and Life" fill fast

Shh. Quiet now. Mickey Mouse is lining up his putt . . . .